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'How does Priestly present the character of the Inspector?'

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'How does Priestly present the character of the Inspector?' The play An Inspector Calls was written in 1945 within a week of World War Two ending but is set before World War One. J.B.Priestly wrote this play intentionally as he saw an urgent need for social change and used the play to express his desire for social equality. The time span between the dates used (1945-1912) is to make us aware of what has happened and learn from mistakes made. Priestly hoped his play would give society the chance with hindsight to look back on the past and not just carry on life in the same way as before. J.B.Priestly took full advantage of writing in hindsight and makes sure that it will make the audience realise how wrong they may have been assuming future events. The play is set in an industrial city in the Midlands of 1912 concerns a wealthy industrial Arthur Birling, his family, the fianc� Gerald Croft and an Inspector. It shows how the family each help to destroy a young woman's life-Eva Smith through their selfish and callous attitudes, which results in her death. The play runs parallel to what was happening to society at the time. Each uncaring action/statement is backed up with ensuing consequences. The Play opens with a conversation between Mr Birling and family and Gerald Croft. The family is sitting in their living room celebrating the success of their daughter's engagement to the son of a businessman of similar status as the Birling family. ...read more.


The fianc�, Gerald Croft, finds the Inspector similarly disrupts his 'Easy manner'. He is distressed by his part in the destruction of the girl's life though he did try to deny knowing her at first as through the first part of the play, he feels completely relieved and innocent to any possible part in the suicide of Eva Smith. He never knew this girl but when the name Daisy Renton came up he gives himself away completely. Mrs Birling, however, remains entirely untouched by the Inspector's questioning. She refuses to see how Eva's could have followed as a consequence of her actions and tries to blame the father of Eva's child for the suicide. As the Inspector questions Eric he becomes entirely weak and helpless in front of his parents. Revealed as the father of Eva's unborn child, Eric reacts in a similar way to his sister. It is not until now in which Mrs Birling is finally affected, faced now with the realisation that her actions eventually lead to the death of her grandchild. As the whole family begin to come to terms with the real crimes they have committed the Inspector intervenes to deliver his final judgement, that while Arthur Birling started it all, they are all to blame for Eva's death. Eva is one of the most important characters in the play yet the audience never actually sees her. Priestly has intended for Eva to represent all other people who were in similar situations at the time, the use of the name smith is cleverly used, as it is a common name, representing all the working class people. ...read more.


J.B.Priestly wanted to show that this would continue to happen if society does not learn from these mistakes made. Priestly has shown us how the middle class people act in society and the way in which they regard lower citizens. He hopes we will realise how the younger generations are the ones who can change the society in which we live. He shows this when Mr and Mrs Birling learn nothing from their mistakes while Eric and Sheila learn from their mistakes. The inspector brings the play to a close, summarising Priestly message when he says "We don't live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other" Exactly the opposite of what we are told to believe by Mr Birling, that everybody should look after himself or herself. Priestly conveyed his message well, showing us how the situation can be changed and who to depend on to change it. The Inspector is obviously as real as all the other characters in body and can eat and drink and is solid. I know that J.B.Priestly became very interested in the fourth dimension and time. That is why I think that the inspector may have gone back in time or there might have been a time slip of some sort to make sure that these people knew what they had done. Another theory might be that the Inspector represents truth and is not a real person at all but just a representative of justice. I think that this is a very plausible idea and probably Priestly's own thought. Urmila Thurairatnam 10S 1 ...read more.

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